Sweden's herd immunity failure doesn't mean what they think it means

It's time for your shocking truth of the day.

The Guardian is lying. I know, I know, you're already trying to imagine which article we're talking about. Well, I guess I won't spoil the surprise.

Just 7.3% of Stockholm’s inhabitants had developed Covid-19 antibodies by the end of April, according to a study, raising concerns that the country’s light-touch approach to the coronavirus may not be helping it build up broad immunity.

The research by Sweden’s public health agency comes as Finland warned it would be risky to welcome Swedish tourists after figures suggested the country’s death rate per capita was the highest in Europe over the seven days to 19 May.

Sweden’s state epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, said the antibodies figure was “a bit lower than we’d thought”, but added that it reflected the situation some weeks ago and he believed that by now “a little more than 20%” of the capital’s population had probably contracted the virus

However, the public health agency had previously said it expected about 25% to have been infected by 1 May and Tom Britton, a maths professor who helped develop its forecasting model, said the figure from the study was surprising.

“It means either the calculations made by the agency and myself are quite wrong, which is possible, but if that’s the case it’s surprising they are so wrong,” he told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter. “Or more people have been infected than developed antibodies.”

Björn Olsen, a professor of infectious medicine at Uppsala University, said herd immunity was a “dangerous and unrealistic” approach. “I think herd immunity is a long way off, if we ever reach it,” he told Reuters after the release of the antibody findings.

Tegnell has denied herd immunity is a goal in itself, saying Sweden aims instead to slow the spread of the virus enough for health services to cope. But he has also said countries that imposed strict lockdowns could be more vulnerable to a second wave of infections because a smaller percentage of their populations would be immune.
There's quite a bit in here to unpack. The first thing is that the lying leftists at The Guardian are still trying to trick and delude readers into misunderstanding both the British lockdown and the Swedish one. It's true that 7.3% of the population having antibodies is surprisingly low: but Jon Henley either doesn't know (because he's stupid) or is lying about (because he's evil) the fact that every single country is depending on their population developing antibodies. The lockdowns were to keep the hospitals from being overwhelmed. They were not to keep people at all from getting the virus: short of shutting everything down (including hospitals, grocery stores, and possibly utilities including internet and electricity) for 21 days and letting everybody with the Wuhan Flu either get over it or die lonely in their homes. Meanwhile Sweden locked down old age homes and the virus still ripped through them like Mike Morrison through the anus of the 12 year old boy next door.

Generally there are two possible things to takeaway from the antibody results: either the virus is so difficult for the general population to get that we'd all need to spit in each other's faces all day to spread this sucker, or that many people who get the Wuhan Flu don't develop antibodies for it.

The first option at first seems impossible with the nursing home situation, until you remember that those who are least at risk of getting the Wuhan Flu are also least likely to receive/transmit it. In other words, the current shutdowns are overkill but on the flip side "superspreader events" seem relatively rare and easy to predict. Preventing mass infections is therefore relatively easy: Toronto parks can be as full as people not named John Tory want and the community spread will be shockingly low. Large indoor events will have to be curtailed which is unfortunate, and air travel will be a giant pain in the ass for months or even years, but everything from bars to tattoo parlours can reopen relatively quickly.

The second option is scarier if you are in a high risk group and like to stay alive, but ultimately better for those who are in low risk groups and just want things to get back to normal. Not some mythical "new normal". Normal. Like...normal. If the Swedes really have been spreading the virus to each other en masse, which the death toll and number of symptomatic cases the would seem to indicate, then many of the asymptomatic cases are so asymptomatic that the body doesn't develop antibodies at all. This does not bode well for the "wait for vaccine" crowd: if the actual disease doesn't confer antibodies, then a vaccine will be highly unlikely to as well. At best, accurately testing a vaccine will be a huge challenge. Let's say that the 7.3% antibodies represent the correct share of the 25% that were assumed to have contracted the Wuhan Flu and that a vaccine would be as effective as the live virus at inducing antibody generation: that means that only 29.2% of the total population would develop antibodies when exposed to the virus, which means that 2/3rds of the potential vaccine trial patients would give false results. So much for rapid trials of vaccinations! The only remaining question is, of the 70.8% of the general population who don't develop antibodies, are they still likely to get COVID-19? If their body (apparently) fought it off once without antibodies, can it do it again? Indefinitely? Does it take multiple infections to develop them? Again though, the ultimate result of this is that the "wait for a cure/vaccine" strategy that Björn Olsen proposes is extremely long-term if not impossible.

There's a yuuuuge caveat there by the way, did you catch it? The 7.3% of people with antibodies isn't exactly the "general population": it excludes those who are active cases or deaths

One notes that Olsen, who is the Swedish media to-go critic for the Tegnell "first and second wave together" strategy, is plum out of options to push for in both scenarios. He's hungry for a lockdown, but the antibody study that he latched onto in order to bash Sweden's current strategy isn't exactly doing him any favours. One possibility completely negates the lockdown logic, the other severely batters it. Notice he's not being asked to defend the lockdown in lieu of this new concerning information.

Just another lie in The Guardian.